Film Review: Red 2 – Electric Boogaloo

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 10th September 2013.

Remember that movie from 2010 which featured Dame Helen Mirren at the helm of a .50 calibre machine gun? Red, which is an acronym for Retired, Extremely Dangerous, also starred “mature” actors Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich playing against type as former black-ops agents called back into action when their lives are threatened by assassins. Oh, and the film was headlined by Bruce Willis playing, um, Bruce Willis. A modest hit at the box office, Red was buoyed by the novelty of seeing highly regarded dramatic actors blowing stuff up.

In yet another example of an unwanted sequel (Kick-Ass 2, The Smurfs 2 or Grown Ups 2 anyone?), Willis, Mirren and Malkovich are joined by Catherine Zeta-Jones and SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS* for even more geriatric hijinks, except that this time there is absolutely no novelty value. Just more of the same…

Frank Moses (Willis) is making an earnest effort to enjoy his retirement with girlfriend Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) when a failed mission from his past returns to haunt him. Reuniting with former colleagues Marvin Boggs (Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich) and Victoria (Mirren), Moses attempts to track down a nuclear weapon hidden beneath the Kremlin by brilliant yet crazy physicist Dr Edward Bailey (SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS). With Russian secret agent, and Moses’ former flame, Katya (Zeta-Jones) plus the world’s best assassin Han Jo-bae (Lee Byung-hun) on their trail, the team blast their way through Paris, London and Moscow.

Red 2 marks three sequels in a row for Bruce Willis who nowadays seems to be acting on autopilot with the engine on smug. I’m pretty certain that you could take scenes from A Good Day to Die Hard, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Red 2, cut them together and you would never know they are from different films. I’m not entirely sure that Lee Byung-hun, who has now co-starred with Willis on two consecutive films, was even aware that he had moved on to a new production. Explosions… Guns… Bruce Willis… Which film is this anyway?

There is also some very obvious product placement which sees entire scenes take place inside a Costco store and a Papa John’s Pizza outlet. Surely in a movie based on a comic book (there are even animated transitions between scenes to remind you), some fictional stores would suffice? I suppose we all need to eat. And when I eat I like to shop at Costco and enjoy a piping hot pie from Papa John’s Pizza! Cheques can be forwarded to me via the CWD.

Red 2 is not without its charms. There is great chemistry between the leads which generates plenty of funny quips and put-downs. Malkovich steals the show with his mentally unstable Marvin Boggs, a victim of decades of daily LSD doses as an experiment by the CIA. And Mary Louise-Parker is clearly having a great time as Moses’ girlfriend who longs for the exciting life of a secret agent.

Director Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest) has managed to put together an unremarkable but largely enjoyable sequel that does very little to advance the franchise. For my money, watch the original again instead.

*An actor of such magnitude as SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS requires that you say his name aloud whenever reading this review, no matter where you are enjoying this column. Thank you for your cooperation.

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Published in: on September 10, 2013 at 23:52  Leave a Comment  
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